6.3 Controlling the Size of the Bureaucracy
During the 1980s and the 1990s it was a common phenomenon to complain against the large size of the bureaucracy. Being comprised of over 2.8 million people, it was natural for the public to make demands for a reduction in its size. Though the size of the bureaucracy can be reduced, the attempts may not lead to success.
6.3a Appointment power and Presidential persuasion
The Constitution empowers the President to make two kinds of appointments:
(1) Those he can make "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate", and
(2) Those he can make by himself under the authority vested in him by the Congress.
The tone of the Presidentís administration is set by the quality of his appointments. In order to control the size of governments, the President can appoint personnel who will streamline and increase the efficiency of their departments or agencies. By appointing able subordinates who are devoted to his service, the President can be relieved of several cares of his office, and be free to devote his energy to important matters. He can have frequent discussions with cabinet secretaries on policy matters and display a keen interest in their tasks. This will result in an increase in the productivity and innovativeness of an agency.
Though a majority of federal posts are filled without efforts
on the Presidentís part owing to the merit principle, he continues
to play an active role in appointing thousands of executive officers,
judges, and diplomatic and military officers, with the Senateís
consent. Thus the army was reinvigorated through presidential leadership
and guidance which helped to make it "all volunteer."
This meant increase in eligibility standards, great opportunities
offered to women and above all, creating a positive image. It may
be pointed out that the army had suffered a severe loss of image
during and at the end of the Vietnam War.
The reason for reorganization of the bureaucracy is generally a desire to reduce governmental costs as well as to make the Presidency more effective and endurable. Though most of the members of the Congress favor reorganization in the interests of efficiency and economy, the task has not proved easy. This is because once a department is established it gets extremely difficult to dismantle it.
During World War I, the Congress had authorized the President to shift agencies and functions wherever necessary. Later in 1932, the Depression led to a desire of greater economy in government. Thus extensive studies were carried out by the committee on Administrative Management in 1937. In 1947 and in 1953 a commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the government, popularly known as the Hoover Commission (with President Herbert Hoover as their chairman) laid the basis for major changes in administrative reorganization. Again, during the New Deal period, further reorganization measures were taken. President Roosevelt established many new agencies and added new governmental functions, as a result. Owing to reorganization, many new and scattered agencies were abolished, merged into major departments, or brought together as independent agencies. For example, the Congress executed a merger of the Departments of the Army, the Navy and the Air force into the National Military Establishment.
6.3c Privatization and Deregulation
It is believed that private enterprise could be entrusted with certain responsibilities to make programs less expensive and more efficient. It has been found that local government is most successful when it undertakes privatization.
As a result of deregulation, the role of the federal government is reduced and a greater freedom is granted to an industry in its operation. This brings about a substantial decrease in the federal governmentís responsibility, which may definitely affect the size of the bureaucracy, though the results may not be beneficial. For instance, the deregulation of the savings industry had resulted in the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s.
6.3d The Power of the Budget
The primary activity of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the formulation and execution of the federal budget. The President thus has the authority to control the expenditures of the executive branch (through this department). The Office keeps departmental activities within the limits set by the President, by a reduction or an elimination of funds needed for the programs that the President does not support. The Congress is however empowered to override these decisions. This important authority that the Congress holds over the federal bureaucracy is referred to as the "power of the purse."
The Office received important federal regulations for reviewing during President Reaganís administration. The President is also assisted by the Office to control legislative requests that the executive departments and agencies make, from time to time. The Office is indeed a continuing institution that has evolved its own roles, procedures and routines, thus making it the very heart of a presidential type of government.
6.3e Sunset laws
Several states have adopted legislation that demands periodic reviews of the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of programs and the agencies implementing them. Abolition or reorganization has been the fate of those failing to meet the requirements.
6.3f Executive branch reviews of the federal Bureaucracy
The Presidentís executive power has increased with the population, the increasing social complexities and with the international obligations assumed by the U.S. as a super power. Both Presidents Bush and Clinton undertook a close review of the performance of the federal bureaucracy. Thus Vice President Dan Quayle, who headed of the Council on Competitiveness which, was established for an examination of all federal regulations, during President Bushís tenure. In his report titled From Red Tape to Results: Creating a Government that Works Better and Costs Less, the Vice President to Bill Clinton suggested reorganization or simplification of procedure. His report was based on his review of the six-month national performance of the federal bureaucracy. However unless the Congress is so inclined, reorganization cannot take place, since only the legislature is constitutionally authorized to organize and empower the administrative unit. Besides, although the people in general desire reform and even politicians may use the agenda of reducing the size of the federal bureaucracy as a campaigning issue, an established bureaucracy is not easily induced to do so.